Receiving the Word Immediately (Mark 4:13-15)

As we mentioned on Sunday, we’re approaching our writing schedule a bit differently this summer.  During the week, we’re aiming at shorter devotionals, primarily in a question-and-answer style format.  The goal is simple: this summer, don’t take a vacation from God.  As much as we like to have you physically with us on Sunday mornings, we also recognize that this season brings increased opportunity for vacations, picnics, sports practices, etc.  So while you’re physically away, we want you to stay spiritually connected—to continue being the church during this summer season.  To that end, here’s today’s post:

Take a moment to read Mark 4:13-15:

13 And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? 14 The sower sows the word. 15 And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them.  (Mark 4:13-15)

Jesus had been teaching publicly, but he now unpacks his parable privately.  Each of the soils he’d mentioned in the parable represent different responses to the gospel.  This also means each represents a unique challenge to those of us that receive the gospel.  In contrast to the seed along the path, we are challenged to receive God’s Word IMMEDIATELY—with no hesitation, lest it fail to take root in our lives.  Stop and think—and maybe discuss as a family—what are some reasons people may have for not allowing the gospel to take root immediately?

We might begin to answer this by pointing out that Jesus doesn’t seem to be drawing tidy categories about who is “saved” or “unsaved.”  But he is saying that the way we receive the word tells us a great deal about our experience of life in the kingdom.

So—to respond to today’s question—what might be some reasons that some fail to allow the gospel to take root in their lives?

  • First, some may not understand the radical nature of the gospel, instead confusing its message for one of morality or self-improvement. Who needs that?  After all, don’t we often think of ourselves as “basically a good person?”  And are there not many ways to self-improvement?  Why bother with religion at all?
  • Secondly, some might see Christianity as something quite positive—but see it as a goal to be reserved for the future. “When the time is right,” we might say, “I’ll get more involved with my church.”  Maybe this means when you have kids, or when the kids are older—it’s usually parents trying to make sure their kids “grow up right.”  But pretty soon we’re swept along the path and life has its way of moving us from the essential nature of the gospel to a thousand other things that demand our attention.
  • Third, there might be some who fail to act on what they hear because they fear social pressures. It’s not exactly a positive thing to be a “born again Christian.”  No one likes a fanatic, so why not keep God in my life, just not be all, you know, “religious” about the whole thing.  And of course this reduces God to a hobby or a nutritional supplement—not a way of life.  It’s no wonder that spirituality then gets packed away along with last year’s athletic equipment.

There may indeed be other examples, but Jesus challenges us to recognize that yes, there are those in our life that do not receive his message with immediacy, and as a result they seem to fall away.  May we be in prayer for them, as well as for ourselves—that we might respond to God’s grace and God’s Word without hesitation.

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